Thursday, June 14, 2012
Is Silfverberg Top 6 Worthy?
The Los Angeles Kings are Stanley Cup Champions and the 2011-12 hockey season is over, but we all know that hockey is now a 365 days a year business. There's always something hockey related coming up and the next few weeks are no exception. In the next 2+ weeks, there's the NHL Awards in Vegas, the NHL Draft in Pittsburgh and of course free agency on July 1st.
Let's talk about July 1st shall we. The Senators are in need of a top 6 forward desperately, maybe 2 if Alfie decides to hang them up in the next 10 days or so. Even with Alfredsson in the mix the Senators need to find an offensive threat who can consistently score 20-25 goals next season. At the moment the top 6 contains Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek, Daniel Alfredsson, Kyle Turris and Colin Greening. That leaves us with at least one spot to fill and possibly 2 if Alfie doesn't come back. In fact I would argue that we may even need 3, as I don't think Greening has done nearly enough to justify a top 6 role consistently.
One of the main questions heading into next season is if Jakob Silfverberg is ready to make the leap to top 6 status. At first glance you would say of course he is. He is a blue chip prospect and just came off a spectacular season in Sweden where he won the league's MVP and a championship. Seems like a no brainer right? Well not so fast.
We often forget the multiple adjustments a player from Europe must go through to enjoy NHL success. For every Erik Karlsson, who seemed to dominate quickly, there's 10 Nikita Filatov's who struggle tremendously. The Swedish Elite League is a rock solid league, maybe even the best league outside of the NHL, though some would argue it's the KHL, but the NHL it's not. Let's also not forget the smaller North American ice surface and the faster, more physical game played in the NHL.
There's also the cultural adjustment of living 1000's of miles away from your home country and all the comforts you're used to. Remember how bent out of shape you got at sleep away camp when you were a kid? Magnify that by 100 plus all the pressure that comes from being an NHL player getting paid an enormous amount of money. It can affect some more than others.
In the 2 playoff games Silfverberg did suit up for against the Rangers, he didn't look out of place, but he was hardly spectacular or dominating either. You didn't really notice him one way or the other, unless you were like me and watching his every move to see his all around game. My conclusion was that with more experience and games, he can flourish. The skill is more than there and I expect him to be an impact player at some point, but it may take him a half season to get there or even more.
If we want a legitimate top 6 forward to count on from the start of the season, we need to go shopping come July 1st. Just don't sign him to a long term deal, because Silfverberg will eventually come around and show he is a top 6 talent. I fully expect him to be a first line player for years to come. Unless he has an awful camp, he will start the season as a top 6 guy and be given every opportunity to stay there.